Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is it worth fixing?

Eric Raymond has an interesting post on the trouble that the Democrats are getting in, because the media/academic echo chamber has removed a key sanity check, for example about the war in Iraq:
There’s no way for the Democrats to cope with this as long as the echo chamber they’ve constructed for themselves keeps reassuring them that the war is lost, and if it’s not looking lost right now it’s unwinnable, and if by some freaky fluke in the dialectic of history we win it voters will…uh, yeah, they’ll understand that we shouldn’t have fought it and surely, surely the ultimate American defeat that will make us look wise and prescient will be secured when the Iraqis oblige us by fucking up badly (this is the stage Obama is at right now).
The nature of the echo chamber has been discussed all over the place, but most interestingly at Engram Backtalk. What's interesting there is numeric analysis of the leftwards bias in the media:

Note that this is the self-described political orientation of the media. The Academy is as bad:

In both cases, the center of gravity is noticeably shifted leftwards from center, as compared to the general population. The general population notices:

So, the intellectual class is left of center (possibly well left of center), sees itself as the vanguard of progress, and is actively engaged in pushing the left of center party even further to the left. Raymond, once again:
That’s the trouble with cocooning. There always comes a point at which reality stops cooperating and you have to deal with what is rather than what you wish were so — the surge, and the Sarahcuda. That’s what happening to the Democrats. And they’re not coping well, not at all. They don’t have a lot of time left to recover before voting day.
So the super size cranium liberals are damaging the Democratic party. The question that Raymond doesn't ask, but needs to be asked, is at what point is society better off without them?

The public is answering this about the media. Just check out their stock prices. The public is probably answering this about the Academy as well. We certainly see this in lower confidence in the public school system, and there are signs that this is true for Universities as well:
State support of public universities has been declining, forcing many public universities to seek private support.
Add the fact that the Academy seems to be pricing itself out of the market, and there's a Bad Moon Rising. While support for hard sciences, engineering, and (maybe) economics remains strong, how long should the intellectual class expect support for postmodern theory, ethnic studies, and the rest?

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